Forum Obywatelskiego Rozwoju


In recent years, the quality of law-making in Poland has significantly deteriorated. Practices such as ignoring procedures, bypassing public consultations, using the deputies’ initiative route for government projects, and last-minute insertions in the final stage of the legislative process have been a constant element of the political landscape. These practices served for the rapid implementation of the ruling party’s will at the expense of the quality and transparency of legislation. While these practices were not new, they have particularly become widespread since 2015, a trend also confirmed by empirical data. This led to a further erosion of citizens’ trust in the state—and worse, it undermined trust in democratic processes.

The last eight years have predominantly seen a departure from creating evidence-based public policy-making—both in terms of formal legislative activity and soft practices. One of the new government’s first decisions was to abandon the creation of assumptions to the draft acts and the introduction of the possibility to skip the stage of public consultations and collecting opinions from other state bodies. This allowed for “hiding” government draft acts from the public and presenting them at a very late stage of the legislative process, shortly before sending them to parliament.

The last two parliamentary terms also saw an increase of presenting government proposals as projects endorsed by a group of MPs from the ruling party—allowing bypassing of government’s legislative process requirements. Such practice not only blurred the line between the government and the ruling party but also reinforced the belief in the possibility of freely using state resources to implement a political agenda. After all, what difference does it make whether ministry officials write a project for the minister or for his colleagues from the parliament—as they all represent the same coalition… It is noteworthy, for example, that almost all draft acts concerning the judiciary, including the project on the National Council of the Judiciary, were submitted by groups of MPs.

Another observed phenomenon was the use of the so-called MPs’ insertions and the submission of key amendments unrelated to the subject of the drafts in the final stages of the legislative work. As once stated by the legal (back then) Constitutional Tribunal – the closer to the enactment of a law, the narrower the scope of amendments should be. However, the creative work of MPs could, at the last moment, completely change the implications of the draft or introduce elements entirely unrelated to it—in both cases, it raised doubts whether such law truly underwent the full three readings in the parliament as required by the Constitution. In the last Sejm’s term, there was a discussion about an amendment submitted by Adam Gawęda, an MP from the ruling party. At a meeting of the combined Public Finance committee and Economy and Development committee, where works on the law on export insurances were underway, he submitted an amendment unrelated to the subject of the draft – tightening the pharmaceutical law.

Politicians also abused the trust in draft acts presented as citizens’ initiatives, which in reality were endorsed by the ruling party. This practice aimed to lend controversial projects a “civic” and manipulate public opinion. It is worth to mention the flagship proposals of Sovereign (formerly Solidary) Poland, such as the bill “in defense of Christians” or “in defense of forests”, aggressively promoted by politicians of this party spread throughout the ministries.

As a consequence of employing these practices, especially in the last parliamentary term (2019–2023), the average time for enacting laws was radically shortened. As we calculated, compared to previous terms, this period has almost tripled, achieving a duration of less than 50 days. This actions adversely affected the quality of the laws, increasing the risk of legislative errors, unintended consequences, and above all, negatively impacting the legitimacy of such enacted laws.

The text is based on the FOR Report: Evidence-based policymaking.

The full content of the publication can be found in the file to download below.

Contact to author:

Patryk Wachowiec, FOR legal analyst
[email protected]